Observations and notes from Monday's interview with Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski regarding the retention of coach Brian Gregory for the upcoming season.
1. Recruiting will not be easy. Barring unforeseen changes, the Jackets have one more available scholarship for next season and then four coming open next year, when Marcus Georges-Hunt, Charles Mitchell, Chris Bolden and Nick Jacobs will be seniors.
Given that, at the least, Bobinski had to decide to retain him for the upcoming season, recruiting against Tech and Gregory won’t be difficult. It’ll be a considerable challenge to convince a prospect to sign with Tech when there isn’t much assurance of Gregory’s job security.
It’s even more of a tough spot for Tech because the junior class is fairly strong in the state. There are four players in Rivals’ top 80 from Georgia, and, according to the Rivals website, Tech is on the list of three. Tech has one signee thus far for the 2015 class, Sylvester Ogbonda from Fort Washington, Md.
“We want to make sure that last spot is somebody that makes a difference,” Bobinski said.
2. The ACC schedule won’t do Tech any favors next year. Tech will have its permanent home-and-home series with Clemson and Notre Dame. Its two rotating spots for home-and-homes will go to Louisville and Pittsburgh, one of the tougher pairs any ACC team will face. (At least judging by this season’s standards, the winner/loser is Miami, which will have Notre Dame and Virginia on its home-and-home rotation.)
The Jackets will have home games with Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest and on the road against Boston College, Florida State, North Carolina N.C. State and Syracuse.
3. Bobinski said that the impact of a buyout “was not a driver” in deciding to retain Gregory. Bobinski said he met multiple times with CFO Marvin Lewis and concluded that the budget could absorb the $2.4 million that Gregory would have been owed over the next three years had he been fired. It clearly would not have been easy, as Tech doesn’t bathe in cash. After the NCAA passed the “cost of attendance” stipend measure in January, which will cost the athletic department about $500,000, Bobinski said he would seek donor support to help handle the additional budget item.
“We have financial challenges, for sure, but they’re not insurmountable,” Bobinski said.
4. Bobinski didn’t mince words. He said that, watching the NCAA tournament selection show Sunday, “it gave me a queasy feeling to know how far away we were from being in the conversation.” (He added that “It’s my absolute intention that selection Sunday is going to be something that we’re going to greet with anticipation and excitement, as opposed to sitting by and watching other people enjoy it.”)
He said he told Gregory that “offense can’t be something we do between defensive possessions” and added that “we were way too easy to guard, in my eyes.” He expanded upon that by saying that he had had conversations with coaches whom he counts as close friends who had previously coached against Gregory at Dayton and had seen Tech play this season.
“And I offered this up to (Gregory),” Bobinski said. “What they told me is, when you had your best teams, offensively you played with a real sense of purpose. There was a clear (sense of), This is what they’re trying to get done.”
Part of the trouble, perhaps a lot of it, was that point guard Travis Jorgenson was still recovering from his ACL tear and backup Josh Heath, Bobinski said, was playing with a hernia.
“I don’t think we got the best out of either guy,” Bobinski said. “We got the best they had to offer, but I don’t think it was their best.”
5. I do not envy those who will be trying to convince fans to renew basketball season tickets. There’s a segment of season ticket holders that will renew no matter the product, and then there are others. Further, I know there are fans and alumni who believe in Gregory and support him, but, clearly, the ranks are decreasing. I asked Bobinski if the department would consider lowering ticket prices or doing something to entice fans back to McCamish Pavilion.
Bobinski said that “we haven’t gotten anywhere near those kind of conversations at this point.”